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Monday, December 15, 2014

Tips for Talking about Prevention over the Holidays

It’s the holiday season. Let’s talk prevention! Here are three specific suggestions for making child sexual abuse prevention a conversation topic with friends and family during your holiday.Body-Safety Rules Poster
  • Invite friends and family into a conversation about keeping kids safe from child sexual abuse. Each person has his or her own communication style, but here are a couple of ice-breakers to consider:
    • Let people know you went to a Parenting Safe Children workshop and why you’ve decided to invite all of the adults in your child’s life onto your prevention team.
    • Hang your body safety-rules poster in a prominent location, like the Stiever Family poster to the right, and let your family members and friends know about the rules and why they are important.
    • Consider giving a friend or family member Off Limits: A Parent’s Guide to Keeping Kids Safe from Sexual Abuse, with a personal inscription about why it’s important to you.
    • Bring up body safety just as you would any other safety topic – e.g. “I’m so glad you got a car seat with all those safety components. Can I tell you about our latest safety measure?”
You probably have other ideas for, and success stories about, inviting people onto your prevention team. Please share them on Facebook so we can all learn together.
  • As children go off to play, remind both the children and the adults about your family’s four body-safety practices:
    • Everyone plays with their clothes on.
    • No one touches private parts.
    • We don’t keep secrets.
    • If you feel unsafe in any way, come tell a trusted adult.
By communicating these safety practices in front of other adults, you are modeling prevention and opening the door for conversation.
  • The holidays are a time of greetings and affection, so it’s particularly important to remember that children and teens are safer when they get to choose when and with whom to show affection. If a family member or friend wants to greet your child with a hug or kiss, and your child does not want to, then you are being presented with a wonderful teachable moment and an opportunity to stand up for your child.
Grandma: “Oh, it’s so good to see you. Give grandma a hug.”
Mom or Dad: “I know you’re a hugger Mom, but we’ve taught Ben that he gets to choose when he shows affection and it looks like he doesn’t want to hug right now.”

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Courage to Speak Up for Kids

Parents frequently tell me how hard it is to talk with other adults about body safety and prevention, yet speaking up IS the foundation for keeping kids safe from sexual abuse. Genevieve, a Colorado mom, offers these words of encouragement:
“When I attended Feather’s Parenting Safe Children workshop, the idea of screening caregivers, coaches, teachers, etc. around sexual abuse was very intimidating. My husband and I promised ourselves, however, that no matter how uncomfortable it was, we were going to talk with everyone about our daughter’s body safety.

The first time I screened a provider I was very anxious. My heart was pounding and I was on the verge of tears because I was so scared that the person was going to look at me like I had two heads and treat me like I was a ‘problem.’

I’m happy to say, this was not at all the case. While I was told in one instance that I was the first parent to ask these questions, the provider was appreciative and thorough. This made me feel safe about leaving my daughter with her.

Next I hired two babysitters. I had gained confidence by this point. The two babysitters who I hired, and still work with today, were extremely professional during my screening process (I used the Parenting Safe Children Nanny Packet) including criminal background checks, thorough reference checks, an interview and trial meeting with my daughter, a discussion about body safety, and a babysitting contract that included body safety.”
To all the parents out there who feel the way I did, it gets easier and it feels really good to know that I have spoken up for my child in this way.”
On behalf of Parenting Safe Children, thank you to all of the parents and professionals who are speaking up for children. As you’ve probably heard me ask, “Are you willing to feel uncomfortable so kids don’t have to?”